At dinner that night, I asked Biao Gong (1) about the origin of the coffin.
He was a 79-year-old veteran here who hadn’t left the village except to go to market. When asked about this matter, however, he wasn’t very clear about the origin and simply said that all the people in the village knew that there was such an old coffin. As to when the coffin appeared? They had no clue. Few people usually passed by the area.
Some older people also said that the thatched cottage was there before the ancestral hall was built. At that time, there was an abandoned earthen house that was bought by the Wu family and leveled so that the ancestral hall could be built. The only thing left was that cottage, which had remained there until now. As for who originally built this thatched cottage and the origin of the coffin inside, it couldn’t be verified. That was about sixty years ago.
Biao Gong at that time was only nineteen years old and since it was so long ago, he couldn’t remember whether the coffin was already in the thatched hut or whether someone put it there in the following sixty years. But the coffin itself looked very old, and no one could say for sure when it was made. I thought the idea a little frightening but felt that there had to be a story there.
Dinner was a “big table meal” in the ancestral hall that was eaten with our other relatives from the village. Biao Gong, who was very healthy for his age, smoked hookah after the meal before he went back to feed the chickens. My dad asked me to keep an eye on him so I quickly followed. On the way, Biao Gong told me that if I was really interested, I could go to another village and ask an old man named Xu A Qin about it. He had been invited by the Wu family to take charge of the ancestral hall since he had been a long-term worker in this village when the hall was first built and had helped in the hall’s construction. Later, in the second year of the Agrarian Revolution (2), he divided a large area of land and went to farm. He may be over a hundred years old by now, so if anyone remembered, it could only be him. But it also depended on luck. If he was more than a hundred years old, who knew what he was like now.
Even though my curiosity wasn’t sated, I didn’t have much experience in building relationships with centenarians, so I told myself to just forget it and nodded my head.(3)
This was the first and most serious mistake I made during the whole incident.
<Extra 1.2> <Table of Contents><Extra 1.4>
(1) Per Anon in the comments below: this isn’t a person’s actual name but more of a name for a distant relative from grandpa’s generation.
(2) Agrarian Revolution (1927-1937) was a civil war b/t the Communist Party led by the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army and the Chinese people against Chiang Kai-shek’s ruling Kuomintang Party. They worked towards abolishing the feudal land system and founding the workers’ and peasants’ democratic republic
(3) A centenarian is someone who is over 100 years old
2 thoughts on “Chapter 1.3 Past Events (Extra)”
a petit note, Biao Gong is not a person’s name, but a name for a distant relative from grandpa’s generation.
Thanks, I added a footnote